Stupid tech support tricks: IT calls of shame

Pronoun problems, IT ghosts, the runaway mouse -- when it comes to computers, the customer isn't always right

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"Who would have thought?" Brooks asks in bewilderment. "That thing was sitting in there, probably stuck to some piece of metal when it got too hot. When the printer was in energy-saving mode, it probably cooled and got dislodged, then did that all over again every day."

On the plus side, that area of the office always had a delightful tutti-fruitti-like smell.

Stupid tech support trick No. 6: The network installation mess

Our final tech support blunder has a slightly different twist: In this scenario, it's not the user but the tech himself who slipped up in a silly way. Hey, it has to happen once in a while, right?

The brave soul willing to share his blunder is Rob Miller. Miller, now an IT consultant in New Jersey, was working as a network engineer at a well-known East Coast university some years back. He had just been promoted and was being sent out on one of his first solo missions: a new network drop install. Piece of cake -- or so you'd think.

"The order said the drop was for the janitor," Miller says. "When I got to the building, I told them I was there to do the janitor's network install and asked where to go."

The folks in the building pointed Miller toward the janitor's closet -- which seemed sensible enough -- and he got right to work. In hindsight, maybe the notion of putting a network connection next to a floor sink should have been a red flag, but hey, orders are orders.

The afternoon ticked away, and Miller finished up the job. He marched back to his boss and proudly announced what he'd done. Unfortunately, he didn't get the praise he was expecting.

"My boss seemed confused and said, 'You didn't talk to me about the ticket first,'" Miller remembers. "'How could you possibly have known where to do the install?'"

The janitor, as it turns out, had been hired for a clerical job in the same building he used to clean. The network drop was supposed to be for his new desk -- not his old custodial closet. In other words, Miller had some serious cleaning up to do in order to make the situation right.

"It's one of those things where you get a better laugh after the fact," he admits.

Luckily, aside from some well-deserved jabs from his colleagues, the misstep didn't hurt Miller much; he spent another day doing the right install, and the custodian-turned-clerk was able to start his new job without issue. As for the network drop Miller had mistakenly put in the janitor's closet, the university decided to leave it in place.

"I think the mop and bucket are on YouTube right now, enjoying the extra bandwidth," Miller laughs.

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